DNA sampling Bill has second reading

New Zealand Government 15 October 2009
Hon Simon Power Minister of Justice

DNA sampling Bill has second reading

A Bill to help Police solve more crime by expanding the collection and use of DNA samples passed its second reading in Parliament last night.

The Criminal Investigations (Bodily Samples) Amendment Bill allows police to collect DNA from people they 'intend to charge', and to match it against samples from unsolved crimes.

Currently, DNA can be collected only with consent, by judicial approval, or by compulsion where people are suspected or convicted of an offence punishable by more than seven years' imprisonment, or another specified offence.

"The rate of crime in New Zealand is escalating, and this legislation is critical in fighting it," Justice Minister Simon Power said.

"The DNA databank holds about 100,000 DNA profiles, and more than 8,000 of them are unidentified profiles from crime scenes.

"We should be making the best use of this technology to help solve more crime."

DNA samples will be taken at the same time police take fingerprints.

The Bill also contains provisions around the storage and retention of samples. Unlike in some other countries, samples of people not convicted will be destroyed.

"The Bill contains new criminal offences penalising the misuse of DNA profile information, which will complement existing legal remedies under the Bill of Rights Act and the Privacy Act. In addition, the Police will develop guidelines to avoid any arbitrary or unreasonable application of this power

"This tool can do just as much for those who are innocent as those who are found guilty of a crime."

The implementation of DNA sampling will be introduced in two stages, and fully implemented by 2011.

"We believe this is going to be a critical tool for police to be able to conduct the work that they need to do to make New Zealand a safer place."